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June 03, 2016

Solarizing the Camera

I sure wish I’d have done this before the Mercury transit, but there’s still no promise that itty-bitty Mercury would have been seen.  But I do know that the camera will be ready for next year’s eclipse.
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Yes I made my own filter, more on that in a bit. 

First the camera is an entry level Panasonic Lumix G5, the rear touch screen swings out and rotates.  I don’t have to squint while pointing into the sun.  It’s mounted on a tripod with a remote shutter release.

There is more than one way to protect the camera for solar photography, the easiest (and most expensive) is to buy a solar filter.  I have a 52 mm threaded lens and Amazon would be happy to sell a Thousands Oaks filter for over $50.  Thousand Oaks is one of the top names in the business, and it’s worth it not to scrimp, the optics in even my entry level camera are well over $50!

But Thousands Oaks also sells their solar film in sheets.  A 4x4" sheet is still under $10, but up 25% from my purchase.  Thousand Oaks also includes instructions, but the modification I have done I have not seen documented elsewhere.  Here goes:

The solar glasses are from the 2012 Bryce Ring-of-Fire, a bit of eye protection in case I screw up!
Bryce Canyon put on a spectacular show for the 2012 event, and continues to put on a great 'sky show' the first weekend in June.

In the black packing foam I cut a snug fit for the camera's sun shade.  To that I glued a sheet of cardboard supplied by Thousand Oaks.  I glued the solar film and another sheet of cardboard to sandwich it all together, also supplied by Thousand Oaks.
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Don’t wait to the last minute to decide if to take a picture.  Holding the solar glasses over Fran’s Sony has poor results and could damage the optics.  Don’t try this at home!  (Photo for display only – and don’t tell Fran!)
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Whew – her camera survived!  But the results are crap.

The G5 is totally electronic, so I let it decide on the settings, and a 10 second exposure is too long a couple tenths is closer but washed out.
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I can fiddle with the ISO setting but not the shutter speed.  This is not a bad result, but I need to read more of the fine manual (is that RTFM?).  The settings will need constant adjustment and I’m not a pro!  It would be nice if the camera could do the compensation
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These settings will need to change as the eclipse develops.  Any thoughts?

I know there are at least a few pros out there who occasionally read this blog and I know one who also has a Panasonic ....  Your thoughts please!

I’ll have lots of various sunlight conditions to work with in Alaska … if we ever get out of San Diego!  Looks like we’ll end up only 10 days late, that’ll change the route north to Tacoma – but not much else.  I might post on that next week – The sites on 395 that we’ll miss most … or something like that.  Which leads to the question what are your favorite 395 sites?

BTW – the stitches are out in time to watch Aj run the anchor leg of the finals in the 400 meter relay.  And I felt down-right formal in real Keen sandals at Kg’s concert last night!
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Where will you be August 21 2017?
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